Eastern Washington's Green but Not Gay

Those counties got on board with pot, but rejected gay marriage handily.

With Referendum 74 passed, there's plenty of marriage-equality and civil-rights goodness to revel in. But R-74's historic popular vote was still not very popular across the proverbial Cascade Curtain. Instead, pot-legalizing Initiative 502 was the one that crossed Washington's east/west ideological divide. County maps tell the stark story of how pot beat love at the rural ballot box.

Currently sitting at 53 percent approval, Referendum 74 has secured a solid lead over its opposition. While every county contributed votes to that advantage, only eight of Washington's 39 were able to deliver a majority. Predictably, these populous giants are all crowded around Puget Sound's progressive waters. Skagit and Pierce would have completed the gay-friendly encirclement, but fell short of achieving an approval majority by one to three points. The rest of the state didn't even come close to a green shade—with the exception of Whitman, which as of Tuesday stands to narrowly reject R-74 by a 10-vote margin.

Now, those election results may not surprise most folks familiar with Washington voting geography, but I-502's returns certainly will. The marijuana-legalization measure confounded all ideological assumptions by winning a majority in a whopping 20 counties all across the state, racking up 55.47 percent of the popular vote at press time. Clearly, voters on both sides of the mountains had grown weary of the drug war.

While the whole of Washington took a huge leap toward social progress on Election Day, individual counties tell a more complicated story. Unfortunately, that tale seems to welcome cannabis more than same-sex marriage.

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